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Hawks nab first conference win

MENDOTA – After 5 straight weeks of struggling against state-ranked opponents, Oregon finally got back on track with a 49-14 blowout of Mendota on Friday night.

“After the game, one of our kids said, ‘Is this how it feels to play a non-ranked team?’,” Oregon coach John Bothe said.

It was the first Big Northern win of the year for Oregon (2-6, 1-4), while first-year league member Mendota also has the identical mark.   

“We knew their record wasn’t what it was,” Mendota coach Brock Sondgeroth said. “They are good at what they do.”

What Oregon was good at was pounding the ball down the field against the Trojans, using both run and pass.

Quarterback Tyler Blume and receiver Joey Diehl connected on a 49-yard touchdown pass to start the scoring for Oregon. 

On the Hawks’ next scoring drive, Nick Newman had catches of 16 and 20 yards, setting up a 7-yard Brandon Sklavanitis rushing touchdown, his 10th of the year, for a 14-0 lead. That capped a 98-yard drive.

“They were able to pound it on us,” Sondgeroth said.

Mendota took advantage of a short field to score twice in the second quarter, the result of Oregon onside kicks gone awry. The two teams combined for five straight onside kicks.

Following a 30-yard punt return by Newman, Pierce Dhaese made a juggling catch in the end zone to help the Hawks go into halftime with a 21-14 lead.

“Our skill players had a nice game,” Bothe said. “We were good on the run after the catch.”

Oregon broke the game open in the third quarter on rushing touchdowns by Sklavanitis, Diehl and Newman. The key defensive play of the quarter was a 30-yard interception return by Mitch Johnson.

Austin Rutherford, who earlier had a 50-yard kickoff return, closed out the scoring with a 38-yard run. Sklavanitis and Diehl led the Hawks on defense with 12 tackles each from their linebacking positions.

“It feels good for the kids to have a win like this, especially the seniors,” Bothe said. “They worked so hard all season and never gave up. They’re a good bunch.”

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